Last week, one of my old college crushes reached out to me, asking if I would be interested in grabbing coffee with him. I quickly declined that invitation. We continued talking, until he asked, “Do you like white boys?” I was at a loss for words. I didn’t know what to say to him — so, I decided to write this letter to myself:
His skin is pale like a line of cocaine, a drug I promised my mother I’d stay far away from. I kept my promise; I always keep the promises I make to other people. So why can’t I keep the one promise I made to myself?
I promised myself that I will never date a white guy. Yet, when I see him, I don’t see a white guy. I see a beautiful human being, one who appreciates the beauty I seldom see when looking in the mirror. I see his French vanilla creamed skin and the tiny pink blemishes on his face. His skin reminds me of a strawberry shortcake ice cream bar — the sweet and savory diamond of all frozen treats.
However, if he told me that he doesn’t see my color or compared me to a chocolate ice cream bar, I would have no choice but to feel angry or uncomfortable. One does not appear at a traffic light and say, “I don’t see color.” Red means stop. Green means go. Colors have meaning. My Blackness has meaning, and he will acknowledge it. Only, he has to be careful how he acknowledges my Blackness.
Whenever I stare at him, I rewrite his story in my head. He’s from a land of milk and honey. I know it’s wrong to make assumptions based on skin color, but I’m more than certain that he would not want to walk a mile in my shoes. If he ever had to walk a mile in my shoes, he wouldn’t last long.
I come from a concrete jungle, where there is shit smeared on the staircase walls and banisters, a pond of piss in the elevators, and faint hints of weed and cigarette smoke in the air. And while I know that he didn’t put me here, I fucking hate him because I’m here. I have plenty of opportunities to leave this jungle, but I can never live in a world of milk and honey. In lieu of internalizing this harsh reality, I’m going to continue blaming him. The beautiful white boy is my scapegoat.
College bridged a gap between our worlds. Before college, I had never had a face-to-face conversation with a white person before. What could we ever talk about, aside from school work? I want to staple my ears shut anytime we diverge from conversing about our school work. Hearing you talk about your privilege is like nails going down a chalkboard. Shut the fuck up and focus, I think to myself.
Somehow, the more he talks about his privilege, the less human he becomes in my eyes. I stop seeing him as the delicious strawberry shortcake ice cream bar, and I begin seeing him as the same devil that enslaved my ancestors.
Whenever I see a white guy who I find attractive, I feel guilty. Even writing this, I feel guilty. So, to answer your question: Yes, I like white boys. I don’t know what that says about me, but I’m not ready to date you. We are still two worlds apart, even when we’re together.
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